There is a story about a Hebrew farmer who was so engrossed in his work that he lost track of time. The sun was already beginning to set AND it was the Sabbath. He realized that he wouldn’t be able to make it to the synagogue because it was more steps than a devout Jew was allowed to walk on the Sabbath. So he decided to sit down where he was and to celebrate the Sabbath in the field. His only worry was not that he needed food and shelter if he was to spend the night – rather it was because he didn’t know the prayers well enough to say them without the leadership of the Rabbi and the congregation.
The next morning when he returned home, he came across the Rabbi. “You were not at the synagogue last evening,” he told the farmer. The farmer apologized and told the Rabbi what happened. Still irritated the Rabbi said, “Well, I hope you at least said the prayers while in that field.”
The poor farmer said, “I am an uneducated man, I could not remember the words or the order of the prayers, so I repeated the alphabet many times and let God shape the letters into the prayers.”
The Rabbi was touched by the man’s faith that God would hear his prayers in the letters of the alphabet that he gave the man a blessing.
Each of us has been in the farmer’s shoes at some time in our life – wanting to pray but not having the words. Like that Hebrew farmer who had faith that God could fashion the alphabet into prayers, we can find comfort in knowing this
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)